From Mongolia to Venice
There's nothing better than a reason to celebrate, whether it's the start of the new year, love, or paying tribute to ancestors. So take a look at these different communities around the world, discover their traditional festivals, and see just how they like to throw a party.
Naadam Festival, Mongolia
Naadam festival in Mongolia, or eriin gurvan naadam, is an annual celebration in midsummer that consists of the “Three Games of Man”: strength, horsemanship and marksmanship. The festival is believed to have existed for centuries, first in the form of military and sporting displays that followed weddings and spiritual gatherings, and then as a way to train soldiers for battle. Now it formally commemorates Mongolia's independence from China, following the 1921 Revolution. The festival begins with a colorful opening ceremony before the three sports, called the Danshig games. Discover more, here.
Zimei Festival, China
Every year, on the 15th day of the 3rd lunar month, the Miao people of South China celebrate the Zimei festival, known as Nong ga liang. The festival plays an important role in Miao courtship, and is a vibrant opportunity for young girls and boys to flirt and fall in love. Traditional costumes are donned, and the village squares are filled with people celebrating Miao culture as young women travel from village to village, singing and dancing. They dress in their finest silver jewelry, over-embroidered jackets and brocade aprons, and offer Zimei rice to boys that they like as a token of their affection. Discover more, here.
Rio Carnival, Brazil
Brazil’s Carnival is known throughout the world for its spirited dancing, its elaborate and glitzy costumes, and its stunning parade. It’s a chance for participants to forget about the pressures of real life, and get involved in a flamboyant 4-day suspension of reality. The Carnival began when cordões, performing pageant groups that paraded through the city avenues, were introduced in the 18th century. Today they are known as blocos and are groups of musicians and revelers associated with particular neighborhoods, such as Copacabana and Ipanema. There are also groups of performers from samba schools who form the backbone of the parade and work year-round in preparation for Carnival. You can discover more, here.
Day of the Dead, Mexico
Día de Muertos is a celebration of death that takes place over two colorful days in Mexico and Latin America It's a festival that honors all things relating to the dead, and is not as scary as it sounds, as it revolves around people taking joy in life, and demonstrating love and respect for deceased family members and friends. On November 1 and 2, participants dress up as skeletons, hold parades and parties, and make offerings to the dead, such as sugar skulls, at alters called ofrendas to welcome spirits back to the land of the living. Discover more, here.
Holi, or the "festival of colors" is a Hindu festival that signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and is also a time for people to meet, spend time together and repair broken relationships. On the first night, the full moon night of Phalgun, people gather in front of a bonfire and pray for their internal evil to be destroyed, like the legend of Holika. The next morning people take to the streets and smear each other with colored powder in a rainbow of shades and spray water with water guns and water balloons.
Festa del Redentore, Venice
Venice's Festa del Redentore, or Festival of the Redeemer, takes place on the 3rd Sunday of July to commemorate the anniversary of when the plague of 1576 finally ended. The plague killed 50,000 people, including the artist Titian, and to celebrate it being over a majestic church called Il Redentore was built. In present day, people spend the day decorating their boats and terraces where later, at night, they watch a grand firework display that lasts for around 45 to 60 minutes. Discover more, here.
Navroze, Central Asia and India
Also known as The Festival of Spring, Navroze is celebrated by the Zoroastrians on March 21 each year, marking the new year in their calendar. Zoroastrianism is an ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran and the festival descends from the legend of King Jamshed of Persia, who enlisted the great astronomers and mathematicians of the day to devise a new calendar. The first day, Navroze, falls on the Vernal Equinox when the night and day are exactly the same length. Navroze traditions include house cleaning ("shaking the house"), toran weaving, chalk making, the taking around of frankincense known as Loban and decorating the table with 7 significant items that correlate to the planets. Discover more, here.